Hofland impresses with third in Tour of California opener

Moreno Hofland (Belkin) continued his strong season with a third place in the opening stage of the Tour of California.

With Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma QuickStep) and John Degenkolb (Giant-Shimano) duking it out for the victory, the race was on to take the minor places. The Belkin rider held off Peter Sagan (Cannondale) - who has the record for the most number of stages wins in California - to take the final spot on the podium.

The day was marked by crosswinds that caused the peloton to break up. Hofland found himself without any teammates midway through the stage when they failed to follow him into front group of 22 riders when the peloton split in the crosswinds. The peloton did eventually come back together, with Lars Boom assisting Hofland in his sprint. It was a tough day all-round, but the 22-year-old was pleased with how it panned out.

"It was a war zone from the start. Everybody was nervous, but I felt really good today and, when team Sky and Omega Pharma-QuickStep attacked in the crosswinds, I was at the front," Hofland said after the finish. "But I didn’t spend too much energy there. In the final, Lars helped me and set me off at the front. I’m very happy with my third place today. It’s a nice present for our sponsor Belkin."

The young Dutch rider has had a solid start to his second year as a professional, with stage wins at the Vuelta a Andalucía and Paris-Nice and finishing second to Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) at Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne. This year’s Tour of California is the first time that Hofland has raced in the United States. Needless to say, the team were happy with his performance

"When Sky and QuickStep attacked in the crosswinds only Moreno was up there. That was not OK, but we closed the gap. In the bunch sprint, Moreno showed his talent. He is not the fastest and is still very young. This was an excellent result for him and the team."

Stage 2 of the Tour of California is a 20.1 kilometre flat time trial through the town of Folsom.

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